(PhysOrg.com) -- When you think about the design team for an ultra-fuel efficient vehicle, on that can get more than one thousand miles per gallon of gas; you probably picture a professional design lab outfitted with the most modern technology available and the best minds in the industry, not a group of school children.
Nevertheless, that is the case. A group of students in the United Kingdom pulled from regional schools and universities recently participated in the annual Mileage Marathon Challenge near Leicester, England. Though, many of the students did work on the prototypes with the help of design or engineering firms. The goal of the challenge is to create a vehicle with a new record in as mileage efficiency as the vehicles race around the track. The cars, which are allows the cars to coast some of the way, sets a minimum speed of 15 miles per hour.
Two of the cars came in at over 1000 miles per gallon. The winning car of the competition has a recorded fuel efficiency of about 1,980 miles per gallon and it was drive by Sam Chapman-Hill age 14. The car weighed about 100 pounds and was constructed primarily of plastics that were reinforced by glass. Another car, driven by an 11-year-old girl named Kitty Foster, reached 1,325 miles per gallon with a design that featured a Cambridge Design Partnership oxygen concentrator and micro-diesel engine along with some smart technology. The use of a GPS tracking system helped her to decide when to put the pedal to the metal and when to coast.
While no direct prototypes are likely to come out of the race and onto the production line they do give car manufacturers a lot to think about. After all, if an 11-year-old can design a car that is this fuel-efficient then why can't professional engineering and design teams come up with a car that can do better than 40 miles per gallon on the highway?
Explore further: Big box stores could ditch the grid, use natural gas fuel cells instead